Greg Takemoto and Redding Music School
By Jon Lewis
Sounds of Music
By Jon Lewis
GREG TAKEMOTO stuck to his guns. Or horns, rather. He was in the fourth grade and under some pressure to play the clarinet. In a minor act of defiance, he picked up the saxophone instead.
It turned out to be a great choice. Takemoto started taking lessons from Roger Hogan at the Brass Reed and progressed through Parsons Junior High and Enterprise High School, including a stint with the award-winning Enterprise Starship under the direction of Dan Neece.
Chico State University, on a scholarship, followed, as did the beginning of a professional career. When he wasn’t in class or performing with the university’s big band, Takemoto started sitting in with various funk and groove bands and playing gigs at regional music festivals.
In 2003, after two years at Chico, an opportunity developed to study with renowned saxophonist Greg Abate in Providence, R.I., and Takemoto jumped on it. That move opened up a host of opportunities and Takemoto soon found himself playing in a popular wedding band, fronting his own jazz combo and teaching at Rhode Island Philharmonic.
“I started meeting the right people,” Takemoto says, and those connections–coupled with innate talent and a rigorous schedule of daily practicing – led to a 20-year stint of teaching and performing. Highlights included picking up a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Rhode Island College, helping to launch the careers of several professional musicians and appearing in the 2016 movie “The Comedian,” starring Robert DeNiro, Leslie Mann and Danny DeVito.
And now he’s back in Redding and ready to help aspiring musicians of all shapes and sizes.
“My whole point is to show kids you can have a future beyond high school band,” Takemoto says of the Redding Music School, the downtown business he opened in the fall with his wife, Shellrose. “If you want to pursue art, it’s possible beyond this little ecosystem. There’s another world out there.”
Takemoto, 40, admits opening a music school is a bit risky and says he could have taken the easier route and signed on to teach at an existing school, but he has a vision and part of it is providing a comfortable place for parents and children to focus on lessons.
“I’m offering a choice, and with some kids it will change their life. What makes us happy? Progress and doing things. Music sets up those levels and reveals that progress so you don’t feel that you’re not growing.
“My goal is to bring the positivity and show kids that it’s not a
Takemoto picked up a passion for teaching during his time in Rhode Island, working with jazz studies and woodwind students at the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School and serving as the band instructor for 13 years at Our Lady of Mercy middle school.
He returned to his hometown to be near his parents, Michi and Chris Takemoto, and to enjoy a safe community to rear his 6-year-old son, William. Takemoto also left the East Coast because he sees
Redding as being full of musical potential. “Redding is primed,” he says, “like a coiled snake.”
Rather than the idea of a jazz musician in Redding being a “foreign concept,” Takemoto says he’s excited about a time in the near future where “Redding is known as a town with good jazz musicians. How cool will that be?”
Jeff Jones, a retired park ranger who plays in the Redding-based band Sax Therapy and teaches twice a week at The Music Connection, arranged for Takemoto to sit in during a concert at Old City Hall and was impressed with what he heard.
“He sounded great. He’s a very accomplished player and I was impressed with him as a person,” Jones says. “He’s got the passion and the talent and considerable experience, as well. He has a lot to offer. I hope some of the school teachers will encourage their students to step up and take some lessons. It’ll definitely improve the quality of bands in middle and high schools.
“What Greg has in mind could be a real asset to kids. And adults,” Jones says. •
Redding School of Music • 1824 Shasta St., Redding
(530) 988-8382 • www.reddingmusicschool.com
Hours: Monday-Friday, 10 am to 8 pm by appointment;
Saturday by appointment